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State Board Rules That Goetz Can Keep Profits From Selling Story

April 22, 1988

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Subway gunman Bernhard Goetz can keep any money he makes from selling his story, the chairman of the state Crime Victims Board said today.

The four-member board decided unanimously that the state ″Son of Sam″ law does not apply to Goetz, said chairman Angelo Petromelis. The board made the ruling March 17 in response to a petition filed by Goetz, he said.

Under the ″Son of Sam″ law, which the board administers, any profits made by convicts who sell the stories of their crimes are held in escrow by the board for the person’s victims.

The law was created in 1979 to prevent ″Son of Sam″ killer David Berkowitz from profiting from book and movie deals about his year-long crime rampage, which left six people dead and seven wounded. A judge last year ordered that more than $118,000 Berkowitz received for the rights to his story should be turned over to families of his victims.

According to Crime Victims Board attorney Judith Brindle, Goetz has yet to sell the story of the subway shooting.

Goetz was convicted in June 1987 of one count of third-degree weapons possession in the shooting of four 19-year-olds on a subway train on Dec. 22, 1984. All of the victims were 19 at the time.

Goetz maintained that the victims were trying to rob him when they approached and asked for $5. The youths said they were merely panhandling money to play video game machines that they intended to burglarize.

The victims’ board said the crime profits law didn’t apply to Goetz because he was acquitted of assault, attempted murder, reckless endangerment and all but one count of weapons charges. The board said the jury trying Goetz, who is white, had determined that the four black teen-agers were not crime victims.

Goetz was sentenced to six months in jail and 4 1/2 years probation but is free on $5,000 bail pending appeal.

Three of the four teen-agers have filed civil suits against Goetz. He has countersued for $1.

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